On Monday night, November 4, 2013, A&M and Target Commercial Interiors hosted an IIDA workshop at the A&M warehouse in Minneapolis on the subject of what to do with your old office furniture, even if it’s not quite as dated as the product in this picture. The large audience included a variety of people from local design students and their instructors, to established professionals, and interested parties like Minnesota manufacturers and moving companies.

As we all know, the drive for collaborative work settings and constantly evolving technology demand changes to the work environment. Disposition is one of the last questions that gets asked as you work with a client who is planning a new building, reconfiguration or renovation.

Sue Raiche and Kevin Rose of A&M spoke as operational experts on the subject, Sue from her years in facilities with large Minnesota companies, and Kevin’s 30 years of installing, moving, refurbishing and recycling literally tons of office furniture.

Q&A

Does a market for used furniture still exist?

A&M: Yes it does, but it is limited in scope and availability. There are used brokers and refurbishers still active in many markets; they concentrate on small businesses with simple product needs.  They cannot compete with manufacturer/dealer discounting on new furniture for large projects.

What products do hold value on the secondary market?

A&M: The most appealing used products are metal files, wood private office pieces and seating that is in good condition. The lowering of panel heights and need for adjustability in worksurfaces has limited the value of older system workstations on the secondary market.

What are the realities of recycling office furnishings?

A&M: Disassembling pieces for steel, wood and fabric leaves very little that can’t be recycled. It has become a rule of thumb that less than 1/10th of 1% of products are destined for the landfills.

Are there LEED points to be earned in this process?

A&M: The simple answer is yes.

The technical answer is that while furniture recycling cannot be considered an Innovation in Design (ID) credit strategy or fall under MRc3: Materials Reuse, it can be used towards earning MRc2 Construction Waste Management points. The key is to be consistent in the measurement and documentation of your actions.

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